“Just Talk” discussions touch on tough topics

Abby Smith, Staff Writer


Cole Norgaarden ’13 holds a variety of handmade buttons to promote Stand Up Speak Out, another event hosted by the Justice League.

The room is silent, as all eyes are focused on a video of an elderly man talking about how he won’t be allowed to vote. This video is part of a presentation dedicated to the Voter ID Amendment, put together as a part of a new program at Blake called Just Talk. Taking place twice a month on Thursdays during lunch, Just Talk is a student-led discussion on issues decided upon by the school’s Justice League.

“Justice league was really concerned that we weren’t… making a difference in school,” JJ Kahle, the founder of Just Talk, said when asked how it came to be: “Just Talk came out of… wanting to make an impact on the Blake community”. In short, the program was born out of the Blake Justice League’s decision to try and reach a wider swath of the school community with their programs.

“At first I was a little bit annoyed, because [Just Talk] was going to take over the GSA slot twice a month, but now I like it,” said Nora Farley ‘15, a member of the Justice league, and a speaker at Just Talk.

Each talk starts with a small presentation, usually a PowerPoint slideshow, that explains just what the topic is. The presentation is meant to be factual, and not to sway the discussion towards one side or the other. That’s left to the students participating in the discussion.

After the presentation is finished, the Justice League’s student leaders disperse among small tables of students to prompt focused discussion. This is meant to take the lecture format of the presentation and turn it into something where those being lectured can become part of the talk.

Kahle says that in these talks she is, “looking for… a higher level of engagement and active engagement with topics that have to do with social Justice and Equity”. This is, to a T, the purpose of Just Talk, and it looks like the sessions are already having an effect.

“I can only hope that even if we reach [just] one person outside of Justice League, then we’ve done what we wanted to do” Ms. Kahle said. And the Just Talks have started to have an impact on the Blake Community. “I think there might be topics that I would be interested in learning more about” said Rachel Hertzberg ‘15, when asked why she came to the Just Talks. And the growing number of students participating in these seminars would suggest many others feel the same way.

Upcoming Just Talk topics include Rape, Disabilities, Religion at Blake, and Poverty.